April 2, 2016 – Spoleto

We wake up this morning with renewed energy and after a breakfast of I-wish-they-made-eggs-other-than-hard-boiled we head off to the cathedral, Santa Maria dell’Assunta.

We take a circuitous route trying to use the moving walkways as much as possible. As it turns out it probably would have been a lot quicker just to walk there although considerably uphill. The cathedral is a Romanesque building constructed in the second half of the12th century. The portico and bell tower are later additions.

Exterior of Santa Maria dell'Assunta
Exterior of Santa Maria dell’Assunta

Unfortunately, except for the floor most of the interior has been updated to a neo-Classical form. Almost all the frescoes and paintings from the earlier church are gone so it has kind of lost its identity inside.

Interior of Santa Maria dell'Assunta
Interior of Santa Maria dell’Assunta

A couple of holdovers from the interior’s prior life are a wonderful 1187 crucifix and some frescoes in the apse by Fillipo Lippi.

1187 crucifix
1187 crucifix
A beautiful Annunciation fresco by Fillipo Lippi
A beautiful Annunciation fresco by Fillipo Lippi

One place where we might find the treasures lost from the church is the Diocesan Museum which is just uphill of the church.

Looking down the hill towards the church
Looking down the hill towards the church

In the museum we see many great works of art whose pictures I will insert at some point in the future. There is one room that has several very old crucifixes and a detailed explanation about the various poses of Jesus and what it means. The crucifix that we saw in the church (see above) is a triumphant Jesus. This is due to the fact that his feet are not nailed together and his eyes are open. Other types include the dead Jesus with eyes closed and feet nailed together and suffering Jesus. This is something we did not know.

My favorite thing in the museum is the wooden deposition group. Having these statues was very popular in the 11th-13th centuries and there have been groups found in the remote sections of Italy where current church decor was slow in coming.

12th century wooden deposition group. On the left Mary's left hand stretches to touch Jesus's right arm and her right hand points to St. John the Evangelist and St. John reaches toward Jesus making a triangle. The meaning of this is the Church (represented by Mary) looks to the Gospel (represented by St. John) to guide her ( the church) to the Lord.
12th century wooden deposition group. On the left Mary’s left hand stretches to touch Jesus’s right arm and her right hand points to St. John the Evangelist and St. John reaches toward Jesus making a triangle. The meaning of this is the Church (represented by Mary) looks to the Gospel (represented by St. John) to guide her ( the church) to the Lord.

I have suggested a trip to these remote churches tomorrow but a look at the treacherous roads up the mountains have dissuaded me of this plan.

After a quick look at the church of St. Euphemia where there is not much left we head to the Casa Romana. This is a Roman house excavated from under the streets of Spoleto. The house is built on the same plan as ones we have seen in Pompeii and on Sicily. It is conjectured that it belonged to the mother of the emperor.

Influvium for collecting rain water through a hole in the roof and with ducting to move the water to other areas of the house
Influvium for collecting rain water through a hole in the roof and with ducting to move the water to other areas of the house
John in one of the bedrooms
John in one of the bedrooms

Onward! We are doing a great job visiting the Top 10 things to see in Spoleto! Our next stop is the 11th century church of Sts. John and Paul. Here we find a saint we are not familiar with, St. Eligius. His attribute is the leg of a horse.

Fresco of St. Eligius holding a horse leg and farrier's tools
Fresco of St. Eligius holding a horse leg and farrier’s tools

Lunchtime! We pick a place that looks nice, the Restaurant Sabatini, but the service is way slow and the food especially Sarah’s carbonara is not so great. The spaghetti is undercooked and the the sauce is broken. We of course are too timid to say anything.

After a brief respite at the hotel while we await the afternoon opening of the museums around 3 PM (Closed for lunch!), we head to the Museum of Textiles and Costumes. This small museum has clothing and materials from the 18th and 19th centuries. Since Sarah is a costume maker this is of special interest to her.


After this we go to the Archeological Museum where we learn a lot about the history of Spoleto from the ancient Umbrians through the Roman period and have an upclose look at the Roman theater that I posted a picture of yesterday.

The only thing left for today is to eat at the Number 1 Rated Restaurant on Tripadviser, Tiempo del Gusto. Unfortunately we are disappointed. The food is trying hard to be modern and traditional at the same time and it seems that it’s not succeeding at either.


We have really enjoyed Spoleto. It is easy to get around on the moving walkways, the people are friendly, and the art and history are astounding. The small scale of the city makes it doable in two busy days. We could have ordered better at the restaurants but otherwise we are totally happy with our choice to include Spoleto on our itinerary.

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